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Scientific Integrity and Agricultural Research

With food, agriculture, and natural resources at the center of many of the biggest challenges we face today, nothing is more critical than making sure our agricultural system is based on sound science.  As USDA’s Chief Scientist one of my responsibilities is making sure our Department’s research system maintains the highest standards of what is known as “scientific integrity.”  Scientific integrity includes making sure that scientific research proceeds free of outside influence or coercion, and that scientific findings are not suppressed or altered.

I am pleased to say that Secretary Vilsack has recently released a policy on scientific integrity, and charged me to implement it across the Department.  This policy follows directly from the guidance provided by President Obama and the further guidance from Dr. John Holdren, Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy.

The policy directs everyone at USDA – career employees, political appointees, and contractors who are involved in developing or applying science – on the proper conduct and use of science. Read more »

Rural Roundtable at Dothan, Alabama

In June, President Obama established the Rural Council, which is chaired by Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.  As a result, numerous rural roundtables have been held and will continue to be held throughout the country.

Revitalizing rural America is a priority to this Administration.  The rural roundtables are an opportunity for stakeholders to provide input, identify challenges and make recommendations.

On my recent trip to the great state of Alabama, my USDA colleagues from Rural Development, Farm Services Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and National Institute of Food and Agriculture supported me at a rural roundtable held in the community of Dothan.  We had excellent attendance and constructive input from community leaders attending. Read more »

Rural Champion Helps Bring Together Diverse Outdoor Recreation Interests at the National Forests and Grasslands

Bruce Ward, Choose Outdoors, Pine, Colorado

Bruce Ward, Choose Outdoors, Pine, Colorado

Cross posted from the White House Rural Champions of Change website:

Bruce formed the nonprofit organization Choose Outdoors in 2008 to bring together the diverse outdoor recreation interests that enjoy the National Forests and Grasslands. Read more »

Tips and Recipes to Kick off National Chicken Month and Labor Day Weekend

As the Labor Day holiday approaches and National Chicken Month begins, we have some tips and recipes to help you on your path to becoming a grill master.

While you probably know that all chicken is inspected to make sure it is safe to consume, understanding grading and classes of chicken can help you choose the right type of chicken for grilling, broiling, or frying. Companies use grading services provided by the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) to ensure that their products have the level of quality consumers expect when they see our “Grade A” shield on the package. Read more »

Rural Champion Leads Efforts to Re-Build Hurricane Ravaged Town

Linda Roberson, Rural Town Manager and Finance Director, Florida

Linda Roberson, Rural Town Manager and Finance Director, Florida

Cross posted from the White House Rural Champions of Change website:

Linda Roberson is the Town Manager and Finance Director of Zolfo Springs, Florida. Read more »

Secretary’s Column: Agriculture Is Resilient Through Disaster

This week I traveled to North Carolina and Virginia to view the damage from Hurricane Irene, survey the response efforts, and meet with local residents.  This trip was my fourth in as many months to make sure that the USDA is helping families rebuild and recover from natural disasters including tornados, wild fires, floods and drought.

So I’ve seen how tough times are affecting folks across the nation, and particularly our farmers and ranchers.  Unusual weather patterns have driven thousands of Americans from their homes, and threatened their livelihoods.  And my heart goes out to all of those who have been touched by these disasters. Read more »